Just Fine

My mother called me yesterday and asked me if I was going to host Easter this year.  I could hear the hope in her voice, which made it even harder to remind her that no, I wasn’t going to able to do that.  I told her that we were all going to have to celebrate Easter in our own homes this year, and wait to get together when the “shelter at home” orders are finally lifted.  To her credit, she told me that was just fine and quickly changed the subject.  But I know that my answer hurt her.

Mom always enjoys family gatherings and holiday celebrations, and she was especially looking forward to Easter this year.  She’s been talking about it for a couple of months, ever since she heard that my out-of-town sister and her family were planning to come for Easter.  Mom was thrilled at the thought of having all three of her daughters and their families together to celebrate the holiday, but of course that was before the spread of the Covid-19 virus resulted in massive shutdowns and stay at home orders.  My sister cancelled her visit and I cancelled my plans to host our family gathering.  So this year, Mom is going to be celebrating Easter all by herself:  no family meals, no attending church services, and no watching her great-grandson hunt for Easter eggs.

I know that thousands of people are suffering far greater losses and disappointments than my mother.  I know that this virus has claimed too many lives and cost too many people their livelihood.  But the last thing I’m going to do is to point that out to my mother, or to tell that she has no right to feel disappointed or sad.  She has every right to feel her emotions and every right to mourn her loss, even if other people are mourning much greater ones.  Grief isn’t a contest, and if we never allowed ourselves to feel sad because other people have bigger troubles, we’d never be allowed to feel sad at all.  Which is just plain ridiculous.

Honestly, I admire the way my mother is handling the situation.  This may not be the Easter celebration she wanted, but it’s the Easter celebration she’s getting, and she’s accepted that.  (Which is what often happens once we allow ourselves to actually feel our emotions rather than feel guilty for having them.)  She knows that she we can’t safely visit her in the retirement center right now, and that it isn’t safe for her to come to our house and risk being exposed to the virus and worse, spreading it to the other senior citizens who live in her building.  But she also tells me often that she knows she made the right choice in moving to the retirement center and that they take excellent care of her there.

DSC03117We may not be physically together this year, but I can still drop off an Easter basket at her retirement center and there will be Easter services and concerts she can enjoy on TV.  I’ll call her on Easter and I’m sure the rest of our family will too, which will make her feel much less alone.  We may not be able to celebrate in our traditional way, but we will still celebrate and we will still connect with each other.  Which means that ultimately, my mother was right.  Easter really is going to be “just fine.”

92 thoughts on “Just Fine

  1. Everyone has the right to be disappointed about no Passover and no easter celebrations. Are you able to do a virtual call with your family? We did that with my sister in law and mother in law for Passover

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    • Sadly, my mom no longer has internet. She struggled with it for years, and when she moved to her new apartment in the retirement center, she just dropped it. Up until now, I thought it was a good decision. But honestly, without me being able to go over there and walk her through it once a week, she couldn’t use it anyway. But I still call her daily, and she’s getting cards and phone calls from her church friends, so that helps. Thanks for the suggestion! I’m glad it worked for your family….my cousin was able to celebrate Passover with her dad in Baltimore that way too.

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        • This was so well put Ann. I really appreciate your putting into words what I’ve been feeling myself. I hesitate to “whine” about my minor incoviences or disappointments when there are people out there dealing with much worse, but you’re right, it’s not a contest and it’s okay to feel what we feel. Happy Easter to you and your family and I hope we all will be able to have real get togethers soon.

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          • Thanks so much, Nancy! And yes, you absolutely are allowed to “whine” about what bothers you…we all are! We feel what we feel, and once we allow that, it’s usually easier to move on to a more positive frame of mind. Happy Easter to you and your family as well!!!

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      • If your mother had an iPhone, technically, all she has to do was simply answer the phone. The software would automatically connect her to FaceTime whereby she could see you and everybody else. You can buy an older model, like a 7S or later and it would work just fine. Easy peasy. Your mother would be thrilled. An inexpensive data plan account would suffice. You don’t need the internet.
        My brother, unfortunately “died” of the coronavirus a few days ago. His wife and his two sons (my nephews) would not make the difficult decision to disconnect him from all the equipment keeping him alive. They wanted to do it on Easter Sunday (the hospital agreed) making Easter even harder for me to comprehend. I’m going to sit in my garden tomorrow and just cry. I’m not watching any services. Nothing. Andrea Bocelli is giving a free concert on Easter Sunday, 1PM EST, direct from the Duomo in Milan. Bocelli’s music will give me comfort. My brother loved the opera. I’ll think of him on Easter Sunday. That’s about it.

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          • Thanks Ann. My brother and his wife would have loved the concert. Andrea did not fail. It was eerie to see Italy (and Paris and NY) so empty and alone. Andrea stood solo and just sand with a simple church organ as the music.

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  2. I know that most people mean well when they point out that others have it even worse, but we must be allowed to feel sad for what we’ve lost. If we are in this together – and we are – then we can open our hearts to all the emotions each of us feels. I can feel grateful for all that I have and also feel such a great loss of my “normal” life and the plans I had just a few short weeks ago. Enjoy your Easter celebration, no matter what form it takes.

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    • Thanks, Janis! And I think so many of us can relate to what you said….we do feel grateful for all that we still have, but are also grieving for the lifestyles that we have lost, especially since know one knows when we’ll get them back. But meanwhile, we’ll be strong and help each other get through this!

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  3. I don’t know, Ann–I’m alone for Easter this year. It’s a hard thing to face. How can it be Easter without mass? Without family?

    And heaven knows I’ve suffered far worse. But it’s still a blow. I’m going to garden on Sunday and give glory to God, and he’ll hear. It still breaks my heart. It’s not just fine, but it is what it is.

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    • Yes, it is very hard for so many people. My two favorite services of the year are Easter and Christmas Eve, so I understand your pain. It’s taken me a while to get to the “just fine” phase. And if you’re not there…or don’t ever get there…that’s okay too. We’re here to support each other, on the days when we’re coping and on the days when we’re not. As you say, “it is what it is.” Wishing you peace, this Sunday especially.

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  4. I can certainly understand why your Mom is disappointed. Spending time with our family is such precious time shared. Not be able to do that leaves us feeling very sad. There is no easy answer, we just have to get through it. 🤗

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    • I know. I thought she understood that we couldn’t get together at all, but perhaps she didn’t. She knew my sister wasn’t coming, but that’s all she knew for sure, I guess. These stay at home orders are very hard on the elderly and those who live alone, especially during the holidays. I’m proud of her strength, but I sure understand her pain.

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  5. Yes, it is Ann, for all of us. I’m glad your mum’s in good hands and being taken care of but I can absolutely understand her disappointment. I think we all share those feelings. But imagine how great the joy will be when we can all reunite and hug each other again. Wishing you and your family a lovely Christmas, from my home to yours. xx 🙏

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    • Thank you so much, Miriam! And you’re right…we’re going to have a big Easter/Birthday/Mother’s Day and whatever else celebration when this is over, and Mom will be right in the middle of it. Meanwhile, we just do the best we can. Happy Easter to you and your family too!!

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  6. We are in the same boat. My inlaws live down the block so we are going to make up a special Easter care package. We plan on ham and baked sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli and asparagus with strawberry/rhubarb pie for dessert. We’ll make a couple plates and then do a “ding-dong-ditch” as we sit in the car and wave when they come out to get the food. I know they wouldn’t cook a fancy meal for just themselves especially at 87 & 86 yrs old…

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    • That’s very thoughtful of you! You may not be together, but at least you’ll know they’re having a nice Easter dinner. Sometimes, we just have to take what we can get. Happy Easter to you all!

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  7. I am going to pray for your mum, Ann. She’s incredibly brave and strong when it’s so hard to be just that. I say this because I’d have thrown a fit – not because I didn’t understand that we have to shelter – but because the frustration of thwarted plans would have been too much to bear. And that’s me far younger than your mum and with so much going right for me.

    I also like the point you make about giving ourselves permission to feel what we feel. That’s part of what God meant about becoming like children once again. It’s not about being silly and bratty, but if I can be honest with myself and not pretend, I’d be honest with God too. I’ve gone to God in just this way a couple of times since the stay-home order came into effect. Some days, a dull mist settles over my heart as the hours go towards evening. I don’t know why that happens but it does. Each time, I tell God, I shouldn’t be this way when others have it far worse, but Lord, it is what it is, so will You help me bear it?

    And He does. In His time. And in His way.

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    • What wise words!!! I’d never really thought about it like that….becoming like children in that we can be completely open and honest about our feelings and emotions. And what a gift that is! Especially knowing we don’t have to bear it alone.
      And you know, in my mom’s shoes I like to think I’d be as strong, but I don’t know if I would or not. This is hard on me, as I love going to Easter services and was really looking forward to having everyone over this year for a meal and an egg hunt, etc. But I still have my husband, and since I babysit my grandson four days a week, I can probably see him on Easter too if it works out. Mom is alone, isolated from family, and the big celebration she thought she was going to have was taken away. My guess is that she has shed a tear or two over that, and I understand completely. It also breaks my heart, honestly.
      Still, we’ll get through this. And when it’s over, we’ll have a nice celebration all together. She turns 90 this July, and I’m thinking we will celebrate that in a big way.
      Happy Easter, and thank you again for your comment…it helped, a lot!

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  8. I’m sorry your family reunion didn’t go as planned, Ann. I can understand your mother’s disappointment. You can do no more than be there for each other in spirit. Perhaps that is how it works on another level too? (Sorry, showing my ignorance here.) Happy Easter to you, your family and your faith community.

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  9. You made the right decision. I’m afraid a lot of other people won’t be following your lead, but I hope I’m wrong. Now isn’t the time to plan or attend Easter gatherings. If some of us make the sacrifice, everyone should.

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    • Thanks, I know it’s the right decision, even though it’s hard on Mom. I’m just so glad that she understands, even if she is disappointed. I have a friend who manages an assisted living facility and she said the hardest thing is the residents who have memory issues, because she has to tell them over and over why they can’t see their families in person. They truly don’t understand, and the disappointment is experienced each time. I can’t imagine! I am lucky that my mom does get it, and knows that we should all be celebrating holidays at our own homes right now.

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    • Thanks, Neil! Yes, what keeps me going is knowing this won’t last forever. I’m thinking the restrictions will be lifted in phases, and know that as a senior citizen, Mom will probably have to be restricted a bit longer than the rest of us. But even for her, this won’t last forever.

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  10. The cancellation of family events or other events are disappointing but at least I understand that it is necessary for now. I hope that soon you will get to spend time with your mom in person and not only over the phone.

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  11. I really feel for families with loved ones in senior living and nursing facilities. We had 3 of our parents in that situation, which is difficult enough without the virus. It is the right decision to stay home. I hope we will be through this soon and families can reunite.

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    • I know, it is tough on the elderly, and their families can’t help but worry how they’re handling this isolation. But staying physically separate is absolutely the right decision now. And I know I’m lucky, because Mom is mentally sharp and so I can talk to her on the phone. I know people who have relatives suffering from dementia and in nursing homes, and they can’t even do that.

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    • Thanks, Ellen! I really believe that we are allowed to have whatever emotions we happen to have, and shouldn’t feel guilty about it at all. The trick is just to make sure we’re not using our emotions as an excuse to be uncaring towards others, I think.

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  12. I am completely in agreement with you on your thoughts in these trying times. Patience is required to get us through them. We miss our social gatherings especially at the Easter festival when family and friends gather to enjoy each other’s company. But we have the technology to at least be able to talk and share our feelings with our loved ones. Happy Easter to you and your family, Ann!

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    • Thanks, Peter! Yes, thank goodness for technology…or in my mom’s case, at least for the phone! It does help to hear each other’s voices and to chat in these trying times. It gives us the strength to endure until it is over. Happy Easter to you and your family too, Peter!!!

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  13. I think the fact that your mom is handling this so well makes it easier for you to do the same. This, for many of us, is the hardest part of the isolation. Nothing with the people we love to celebrate traditions and special days. But you’re right. We will be fine. All in time. Have a blessed Easter, Ann.

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    • Thanks, George! And yes, the fact that she’s not complaining about it helps a lot. I still worry about her, but I also know she’s strong and she’s coping as best she can. Someday this will be over, and until then we just have to support each other, be kind to ourselves and remember that we really will be fine! I hope you and your family have a wonderful Easter!

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  14. While we rarely get together with family for holidays, I realize that if it is your tradition to do so this Easter is going to be difficult. I hope that people will stay at home as directed, so that we all can get over this virus sooner. It may be difficult, but it is the right thing to do for the right reasons. Happy Easter, Ann.

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    • Yes, getting together for holidays is very important to my mom, and I do like having my kids and grandson together for them as well. Usually we have an Easter brunch with everyone, and then my kids go to their in-law’s houses for dinner. But this year, we will just drop off cards and a basket for my grandson on their front porch, and drop off a basket and some supplies for my mom….and that’s fine. It’s what we need to do to keep everyone safe. And it will also make the next time we get together that much nicer! I hope you have a Happy Easter too, Ally!

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  15. I agree with the idea that a loss, regardless of how “big or small,” is still a loss. Easter Sunday will be one year since I had to put my kitty down. I only had 14 months with her, but I took it pretty hard. I’m reluctant to mention it to anyone for obvious reasons. Thanks for affirming something I’ve always believed; that grief isn’t a contest.

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    • I’m so sorry, Luanne! Of course you are grieving your cat! But I know what you mean about being reluctant to mention it, because sometimes we are told that our grief isn’t justified. But if we’re grieving, we’re grieving, and no one has the right to tell us that is wrong. Our emotions are valid, no matter what. The only choice we have is how we act on those emotions.

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  16. It’s hard, isn’t it? My mother seems to understand what’s going on one minute, then the next will say or ask something like your mother’s Easter question. I think she just forgets, but that means the reality hits her multiple times. I want to go and give her a hug, but I can’t! It seems so cruel, and yet it’s for the best.

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    • Exactly, Anabel! I thought Mom understood that there would be no Easter gathering this year, but I think she just thought my sister would no longer be able to come, but those of us in St. Louis could still get together. I felt so badly having to tell her no, and it did seem cruel. But right now, it’s also necessary, and I’m glad she understands that. Still, it’s one reason why I have no patience for those who say it’s “easy” to stay home all the time. For some people, including seniors who live alone, it’s very, very hard. I’m so sorry you’re in the same situation with your mom.

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  17. Ann I loved this one. I think your Mom and mine would have. been on the same page about a lot of things
    I believe this is so hard for your mom ‘s generation… they’re been through enough
    Thank goodness she’s in a good place and close to you

    Patty

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  18. It’s so hard to ‘crib’ and ‘complain’ and feel low when you know that there are people out there facing tougher situations, which is why we sometimes shun our grief away, thinking it’s unwarranted. But I realised that it is so wrong, and no matter our status, our house, our bank balance, everyone is allowed to feel what they feel. I love reading your pieces because they voice emotions every single human goes through but often doesn’t acknowledge, more power to you!

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    • Thank you so much! And yes, we are allowed to feel whatever we feel, with no guilt and no apologies needed. The only restriction is we can’t use our emotions to justify treating other people badly, I think. And one of the things I like best about reading is that we do discover that other people feel and think some of the same things we do. I’ve had so many moments where I’ve read something and felt an instant connection to the writer, because they are expressing exactly what I’ve been thinking. And that makes me feel so much less alone, and makes me realize how much we all really do have in common.

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  19. I felt sad for your mother, hoping you would say ‘yes.’ She’s without her family on an important day of the year that she traditionally has them (you) close. Whatever loss there may be for each one of us, “there is no contest for grief.” A great way to put that! There has been so much change and loss, most all of us need to grieve. To grieve what’s happening in our life and our world. Then your mother’s sweet response, even though she felt disappointment, “It’s okay.” I know it will be okay in the end. Life will return to a new normal, but it will return to normal. There is always hope. In the meantime, we are allowed to feel what we feel. We should encourage each other to do so. I love this post! Thanks, Ann.

    Blessed Easter to you and yours! 🙏

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    • Thank you, Brenda! You know, when this first started, I wasn’t sure exactly why I was feeling so frustrated and anxious, and then I read somewhere that all of us are grieving for the “normal” lives that we have lost so suddenly and for an unknown length of time. And that made so much sense! I also helped me realize that it’s okay to grieve (or feel any other emotion that happens to come along), no matter what our situation is. We feel what we feel, and that’s okay. Like you, hope is what gets me through. Things will be okay again, and I can get through this, the same as everyone else. I hope you and your family have a blessed Easter too!!

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  20. This is a really hard time for the elderly. My parents are in a retirement complex, and they aren’t allowed outside of their apartments. It’s so isolating. And I worry about them since I used to keep their place clean, shower my mom, and monitor their health. I’m allowed to drop off groceries and I sort their meds downstairs for the staff to deliver. But the rest… they’re on their own. Staying in touch is vital and I’m so glad you dropped off an Easter basket. Those small efforts go a long way. Best to you and your mom. Happy Easter. ❤

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    • I’m so sorry! I know how hard it is to worry about aging parents, especially when we care for them. My mom is luckier than most, because her facility is completely Independent Living, and so has the least restrictions of all the different levels. But they still closed all the public areas in the building and no visitors are allowed except for medical personnel and the staff who work there (even they have to have their temps taken daily). Her meals and mail are now delivered to her room. And the ironic thing is, we moved her there for the social life, which she was thoroughly enjoying before this virus hit! But it will end eventually and we all just have to be strong.
      It sounds as if you were providing a rather high level of care for your parents, so I completely understand your concern at not being able to enter their apartment. Isolation is bad for the elderly in terms of their mental and emotional health, and it’s also hard on those who love them because we know they need our help. I’m praying this is over as quickly as possible., and wish the best for your parents until then. Happy Easter to you too!

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      • My parents are also in independent living and getting meals and mail delivered. My mom really needed assisted living, but my parents refused(!!!) to go there (so I became the “assisted” part of their lives). In hindsight, it was a terrible choice that they’re having to deal with. I’m so glad your mom is truly independent. It will be a wonderful day when we’re all free to visit and hug again. 🙂

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  21. Your mom has an expectant heart, always hopeful of good times with family. However, these are times when time away may be more helpful to everyone concerned. Sending best wishes for the Easter to you and your loved ones.

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  22. You are so right Ann! People are entitled to their feelings and should be able to express them. It is healthy to express how we are feeling. My mother is 86 and we always have a big celebration on Easter at my house. After church, many members of our whole extended family, as well as friends, gather for an egg hunt in the afternoon. My mom, like yours, really missed this event. We did bring our Easter meal to her door and she was very happy about that! As you so aptly put in your post, things are different, but they are still ‘fine’. Letting people know that we love and care about them is what makes the difference.

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    • I’m so glad you were able to deliver an Easter dinner to your mom! We miss the usual celebrations, but we know that the elderly miss them the most, and so gestures like that make all the difference. My mom was so thrilled that “everyone” called her, which they did. So even though we weren’t together, she did get the messages of love and care from everyone, and that is all that really matters. And just think how much nicer next year’s celebrations will be, now that we won’t be taking them for granted anymore. Happy belated Easter to you, Linda!

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  23. I can understand how sad your mom felt about the news that there wouldn’t be a big family gathering this year for Easter, Ann, and I really hope that she got to enjoy Easter at her retirement centre nonetheless. So many of the elderly are feeling so lonely these days what with family and friends not being able to visit. It’s an added weight and burden to carry in all this…

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    • Yes, this is hardest on the elderly, and those who suffer from depression and anxiety. I’m so lucky I’m still able to talk to Mom on the phone every day. And she was so happy that so many people called her on Easter! That made the day much easier for her. (She called me this morning and said that the center had delivered a card table to her apartment so that now she has a place to do jigsaw puzzles. She LOVES doing puzzles, so that is good news indeed!)

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      • Aw, that’s lovely that they delivered that table to her apartment so that she can do her beloved puzzles! Which reminds me, I should have one or two of these left lying around somewhere, now’s the perfect time for it!

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        • It really is! And doing a puzzle can be so soothing, since we just focus on putting the pieces together and tune out everything else. When I heard that the center had delivered a table to her apartment (her dining table is too small for a puzzle and eating space), I knew that she is in the right place. They really do are about the residents there!

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    • Thank you so much! I’m sorry you weren’t able to get together with your mom for Easter. Here’s hoping you can see her soon. And yes, I’m very lucky I can still deliver supplies to Mom. It helps her cope with the isolation, which is so bad for her. I’m praying that things change sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, we just soldier on!

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    • Thanks…I think we all needed to be reminded of that from time to time. It’s far too easy to feel guilty when we’re grieving because we always know someone else who is in a worse situation. But that doesn’t take away our grief. We all need to just accept our emotions, I think.

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